Military sexual assault film featuring Pingree gets Oscar nod

This article was originally posted by Kevin Miller at The Portland Press Harold on January 10, 2013

A documentary film about sexual assault in the military that includes interviews with U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, was nominated for an Academy Award on Thursday.

"The Invisible War" is a hard-hitting documentary on the U.S. military’s poor record for investigating and prosecuting rape or other sexual assault incidents. The widely acclaimed movie, which won the audience award for best documentary at the Sundance Festival in 2012, has drawn public attention to sexual assaults in the military and helped spur action in Congress as well as within the Defense Department.

The documentary features interviews with numerous survivors of sexual assault and their subsequent experiences dealing with a military culture in which only 8 percent of sexual assaults crimes are prosecuted and only 2 percent result in convictions, according to the filmmakers. The Pentagon estimates that nearly 20,000 sexual assaults take place in the military every year.


The documentary was directed by Kirby Dick.

Pingree was interviewed for the documentary and the film also includes footage of survivors telling their stories in Pingree's Washington office.

A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Pingree has been among the more vocal lawmakers on Capitol Hill pushing the Defense Department to more aggressively address “military sexual trauma” and to improve treatment of survivors. Pingree sponsored a bill last year to lower the burden of proof for disability benefits for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to sexual trauma.

"This nomination is an honor to the people who made the movie, and that includes the incredible brave veterans who told their stories on camera," Pingree said in a statement. "It's only because people like them have had the courage to talk about what happened to them that the scandal of sexual assault in the military has been brought to light."

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share holder of MaineToday Media, the publisher of the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.

"The Invisible War" documentary has been viewed by top Pentagon officials, who have since taken steps to address the way sexual assault reports are handled by the military. The film also hit the screens at a time when numerous sex abuse scandals have made national headlines.

Earlier this week, media organizations reported that the House Armed Services Committee plans to hold hearings later this month on sexual abuse in the military. The hearings come at a time when the U.S. Air Force is still dealing with sexual misconduct cases – including sexual assault and rape cases – against several dozen instructors at the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.

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commented 2013-02-24 16:41:00 -0500
I’m sorry Wendy. I didn’t want to open old wounds. It’s just that sexual predators are named in the press, while the victims’ names are protected. Sexual offenders have to register with the FBI and are monitored, and identified with notification of everyone in the surrounding neighborhood. It seems like such a turnaround to have the victims so exposed, and the criminals protected in this film. Thank you for coming forward. It takes a lot of courage to identify this monster.
commented 2013-02-24 14:16:48 -0500
Gordon, when you asked that question, all the old fears kicked in. What if he can find me now? Would he come after me, after all these years? Could I protect myself, my children? Does he now accept responsibility for his actions or am I still the bad guy that turned him in? Then, of course, there is the guilt. I already won. Why should I out him now? Why should I ruin his life again? Should he have to suffer all these years after the fact?

And the answer is that I still suffer all these years after the fact. And if he wants to find me, I’m not hiding. I’m not afraid. I can hold my head up because I didn’t lie or falsely accuse. And if he sees me as the bad guy, that is his problem, not mine. I’m not out to ruin anyone’s life. But I suffer the consequences for his decisions. I hope he has a daughter that he has to protect from someone like himself one day.

His name is David Buckley.
commented 2013-02-24 10:02:04 -0500
What was the name of your perpetrator, Wendy?
commented 2013-02-24 04:33:33 -0500
The military doesn’t always get it entirely wrong. I wad raped on active duty 25 years ago. Thankfully, I reported it. He ended up being convicted, probably because there was a civilian he had done the same to. My accusations bolstered hers and herd bolstered mine. He got 2 years. I guess that tells me what his value was to them as opposed to mine. The fact that I spoke out followed me throughout my career. It impacted others willingness to know me, if they were aware of my situation. It impacted whst shifts I was put on. I’m 60% disabled because of PTSD. And don’t ever tell mr that rape is an occupational hazard of being in the military. That is bullshit! Rape should be the occupational hazard of NO profession. Especially not our military. If the good guys act like the bad guys, how in the hell are we supposed to tell them apart?
commented 2013-02-23 20:10:15 -0500
Very powerful film… But why, oh why, weren’t the perpetrators named??. Whether they can be prosecuted or not, they can be humiliated in an Oscar nominated documentary of this sort.
commented 2013-02-17 00:41:58 -0500
I have just watched the film, Invisible War_ and feel very, very strongly that both the US Military & US Federal Gov’t., are egregiously irresponsible to this country, through this level of heinous dysfunctionalism practiced at the expense of America as a whole. Not only are perps not prosecuted, their names are never revealed, they are released back into society at-large, while their costs to society and the justice system, could be prevented! THIS in addition to the complete abandonment of those victimized while in-service to this country because these national systems of service to the nation, will avoid inconvenient embarrassment at the expense of lives, makes both the military and the government- LOSERS. This standard conduct of denial, devaluation, and avoidance in NOT acceptable._ From a daughter of the military
commented 2013-01-17 20:51:52 -0500
I am a civilian guy from the Netherlands and having watched the documentary I want to express my utmost respect for the women in the film who were so couragious to tell their stories to the world. I sincerely hope that this courage will be rewarded with true change.
commented 2013-01-16 18:10:19 -0500
Aberdeen Proving Grounds, 1981. I was sexually assulted right in wielding class. After the instructer reported it to the commander, I was made to purchase all new uniforms, 2 sizes to big, then have all my hair cut off
followed this page 2013-01-16 18:08:03 -0500
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